BTA Parliament approves P10-B special development fund

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro Parliament has passed on third and final reading a bill appropriating P10-billion from the 2020 and 2021 Special Development Funds (SDF) to flesh out eight fundamental goals in the autonomous region, according to the regional legislature.

Parliament Bill No. 139 drew unanimous approval from all 40 members present at their regular session on Oct. 8, the regional legislature’s Media Relations Division (MRD) said in a report sent to media entities.

Lawyer Ubaida Pacasum, vice chair of the Committee on Finance, Budget and Management, conducted a series committee hearing before presenting the bill to the plenary where it underwent minor amendments and instant approval, the MRD said.

It said the bill passage was pursuant to R.A. 10054 or Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which provides for the appropriation of P5-billion per year from the 10-year annual block grant from the national government to rebuild, rehabilitate, and develop conflict-affected communities in the Bangsamoro region.

Architect Eduard Guerra, chair of the Committee on Finance, Budget, and Management, said the SDF will bankroll additional infrastructure projects as well as focal programs for widows and orphans in the region.

The SDF will be used based on the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) as approved by the Parliament and Regional Economic and Development Council in 2020, the MRD report said.

The BDP, covering 13 chapters and 354 pages, serves as the regional development roadmap, containing strategies and priority projects in consonance with the development thrusts of the national government, the report added.

Under the BDP, the Bangsamoro’s Government of the Day has identified eight (8) development goals to:

● Establish the foundations for inclusive, transparent, accountable, and efficient governance;

● Uphold peace, security, public order and safety, and respect for human rights;

● Create a favorable enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable economic development;

● Promote Bangsamoro identity, cultures, and diversity;

● Ensure access to and delivery of quality services for human capital development;

● Harness technology and innovations to improve socio-economic opportunities and services;

● Increase strategic climate-resilient infrastructure for sustainable socio-economic growth; and

● Improve ecological integrity and promote climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to sustain the resilience of communities.

Under the approved bill, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Management (MFBM) shall cause releases of the SDF to implementing ministries and offices upon submission of a special budget request and approval of the Chief Minister, the MRD report said.

The MFBM shall issue necessary guidelines for the effective implementation of the cash budgeting system, the report said.

For transparency of infrastructure projects, ministries and offices shall post detailed descriptions of their projects and actual cost on their respective websites, and be required to submit their quarterly financial and physical reports to the MFBM.

A technical working group will be formed to facilitate the development and consolidation of the programs, projects, and activities and ensure that it is consistent with the BDP.  (AGM)

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